Go Cart Racing….. A Grandpa Story

12 Sep

Back on the 31th of August I did a post on my love of stock car racing.  When I started that post my love of racing was supposed to lead into a post about racing go-carts.  But I got so involved in writing about Stock Car Racing that I never had a chance to talk about go-carts.  So today I am going to talk about all the fun I have had over the years driving and racing go-carts.

The last time I was on a go-cart, and actually got to drive and race against friends was several years ago.  A couple of times since then I have tried, but as I stated previously, the owners of the go-cart tracks, really and I do mean really frown on a guy with a portable oxygen concentrator trying to ride and race one of their carts.  Not to mention there really isn’t wasn’t easy to squeeze my fat ass into one with the concentrator in hand LOL.

 But back to better times, when I was skinny and could fit into just about anything, especially go carts.

I have vague memories of riding go carts as a kid because they were a pretty big thing. But I never raced in organized racing.  One of my neighbors was a master mechanic, and if he looked at your car it was be faster and quicker.  He built dragsters and hot rods as a part-time job. But he had 3 lovely daughters and no sons.  But he brought out a bit of tomboy in each, they all loved fast cars.  Anyway, he built a go-cart for his daughters.  And it was quick real real quick, and I got to drive it a couple of times, and that really got me hooked.

Here is a list of all the states I have ridden go carts: Kentucky, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, California, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona and Iowa.  Outside the US, I have ridden go carts in the following cities, Tarquinia, Finale Lijure, Naples and Genoa Italy.  In Spain I rode in Barcelona, Valencia, and on the island of Palma de Mallorca.  And finally in Greece I carted in Athens and Thessaloniki.

Smiling, I have been very fortunate, I have been to a million places because of my service to our country.  The Navy was a 24/7/365 job and when the ship was underway it wasn’t uncommon to have 4 or 5 sixteen hour days back to back to back. During that period of intense work, of unbearable schedules, and coupled with all the minor bullshit things you had to do (in your spare time) you were totally ready to let loose a  ton of steam when the ship was in port and you had hours and hours off before your next watch.  We all did, well many not all, may a dozen or so guys, we contained enough they didn’t need to blow off steam, but I wasn’t one of them.  I will not lie, I drank a lot, and let me be candid, when I say I drank a lot, I mean A LOT.  I also found many a mom and pop restaurant for a local meal (which were always great and always cheap). I also got post cards for loved one’s back home, but when I was off I drank played cards, and found the local go-cart track.  I knew a couple of guys (onboard the ship) that were as enthusiastic about going carting as I was and together we would actively seek out the local go-cart track.  Of all the places we rode carts, my most favorite was just outside of Genoa, in the hills.  BTW we always used the local USO club to locate the tracks and figure out transportation.  So the 3 of us headed to the track.  And it was so cool, nestled in a little gully, the track was probably no more than a sixth of a mile.  We arrived just as they were opening (11am), and we stayed until they kicked us out.  One of the coolest things about this track was cart motors had governors on them that were easy to adjust.  We were allowed to run the carts flat-out.  Because of the layout of the track we spun out a lot, and we bumped a lot.  I never had so much fun.  But the coolest thing about this track was they served ice-cold beer and great sandwiches.  At 9pm we were standing on the side of the road hot, sweaty, stinky, smelling of beer, and with no way to get back to Genoa. It was really too far to walk though if forced we would have, but we stuck out our thumb, and the 1st car that came by picked us up. The driver an older lady, who asked us what ship we were on, and said she would be happy to take us there.  Along the way she explained that she was American living with her husband there in Italy.  We found out that she was in fact the wife of the former Ambassador to Italy.  She took us directly the ship.

The next day 13 of us invaded that go-cart track from 11am to 10pm, and we spent a ton of money that day, and a bunch of locals sat about watching the Americans race and drink beer, and then race some more.  Then eat sandwiches and drink more beer.  A lot of us were driving carts quite drunk.  And while some of us may have drunk there wasn’t a single ugly American in the group. We had a great time, we supported the local economy, and the embassy provided us a bus to get back to the ship.  It was a great day.  While myself and a couple of others always found go-cart track, there were no other experiences in Europe that would compare to those 2 days.

Navy guys would/will bet on just about anything, that is just a fact of life.  While stationed in Norfolk, VA it was a payday ritual for several of us to go out to VA Beach, to one of the 3 go-carts tracks and race for dinner.  The rules were simple we had 3 races, and the winner of each race got his meal for free, so if there were 3 winners the others would have to pay for those 3 additional meals.  If there was only 1 winner of all three races, that turned out to be a cheap night.  The other simple rule was you had to change carts every race.  We tried to do it every payday, but schedules, weather, wives, ship movement, and a variety of other reasons kept from being an every payday thing.  Over the years I think I broke even as for paying for dinner or having mine paid for, it was a ton of fun. The was always a lot of haggling going on before the race, we would go so far as to draw lots to see you got to get into line 1st, rarely did we go to the same track twice in a row, and we always tried to bribe the starter kids to jack up the governor on the cart we were driving.  In the US drinking was not allowed at the go-cart tracks (go figure), so we would always have a couple beers before racing began.  BTW this does prove that not all sailors (single) spend all their and money at those other places for adult entertainment. LOL LOL  We did manage to diverse ourselves so we could do both LOL LOL.  Cari, ask your mom what I am talking about, and see how red she gets.  Love grandpa.

In Louisville, and for that matter several other cities in the late 70’s early 80’s had a track called Gran Prix.  Their cars (they were not carts) looked like miniature F1 racing cars.  Only one was allowed on the track at a time, and you raced against a clock, I will say that generally I had the quickest time.  The Gran Prix cars were fun, but I really liked the wheel to wheel racing.  But Gran Prix, the distinct advantage of looking like a real car.

My ex-boss, who was 12 years older than I loved go-carts too, like me he was a kid at heart, for years we did an annual golf outing, and several times during those outing we would find a go-cart track to play at.  We found that greatest cart track that I have ever been to at Lake of the Ozarks MO.  It was craved into the side of a hill, and was almost 3/8’s of a mile, which is quite long for a go-cart track.  We couldn’t wait to go again, and then a third time.  LMAO, he probably was one of the most important people in telecom for the government, and he was a kid at heart.  He was a great man and a great friend, he was my mentor, and we shared the same disease. God do I miss him.  It took him before he was done, most likely it will take me before I am done.

I haven’t raced with friends in over ten years, the last time was in Corpus Christi, TX. I was there to take part in the National Bowling Tournament. Spent 5 days there, and being honest that was enough.  The track was non-descript, but it was still fun, there must have been 6 of us there that night racing for beers, which we would and did consume later.

Over the years racing go-carts in all the places It was a great deal of fun, it was an adventure, and it has given me a touch of joy to write about it.   Not sure if Cari will get a lot out of it, and I do wish I had taken Allison go carting more often.

LMAO who would have thought I could write damn near 1700 words on go carting racing.  Still LMAO I suspect many of you that have read my stuff before, are not in the least bit surprised, more shocked that I didn’t stretch it out as I am doing now LOL LOL. Heck if I keep this up I t will damn near be at 1800 words when I am done.

Thank you again for going on this journey with me.  If you have any thoughts or comments you want to share please do.  Take care, Bill



Posted by on September 12, 2013 in Humor, Ramblings


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 responses to “Go Cart Racing….. A Grandpa Story

  1. The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap

    September 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    What a cool post, Bill! Lotta fun to read. 🙂

    • FlaHam

      September 12, 2013 at 2:09 pm

      Paulette, It was a lot of fun to bring that back from the wayback machine. It was a less complicated time of life. Take care, Bill

  2. jmgoyder

    September 13, 2013 at 6:40 am

    Oh, Bill, I LOVE these stories!

    • FlaHam

      September 13, 2013 at 7:17 am

      Julie, I am glad you enjoy them, each story is sentence or paragraph maybe even a chapter in my life. It is my hope that when Cari reads these stories she gets a better understanding of her grandpa. I can’t lie either, I do Love my readers reactions to these pictures into me. You have a wonderful day my dear, and remember to throw away the matches as well. Take care, Bill

  3. Chatter Master

    September 14, 2013 at 11:26 pm

    I kept scrolling thinking there might be a picture or two! Your Cari will love these stories. I love the fun in your life.

    • FlaHam

      September 14, 2013 at 11:32 pm

      Colleen, of the hundreds of times I have been go-carting, I don’t believe there is a picture to show for it. Besides I was always driving a cart, so I couldn’t take the picture. LOL, it is a lost though, maybe I will find a way to stage such a picture. I am truly glad you love my stories. I find everything you write to be so beautiful and unique. Thank you. Bill

      • Chatter Master

        September 15, 2013 at 2:18 pm

        YES YES!!! Stage a picture. 🙂

        (and thank you).

        • FlaHam

          September 15, 2013 at 3:07 pm

          Colleen, there is a track not that far from here. I may in fact stage that one. Take care, Bill

  4. DeeDee Granata

    September 16, 2013 at 1:12 am

    This brought back some fun memories for me. My dad built my oldest brother (I have 4 of them) a go cart. Not exactly like the race track ones I’m sure. But I loved driving it! Makes me laugh and smile to think of that. Thanks again!

    • FlaHam

      September 16, 2013 at 10:17 am

      Dee. My dad got me to love racing. I have always enjoyed racing, real or on my game station. I was a terror when I was a kid, I drove hard and fast most the time. In hindsight I was a dumb ass LOL, and I am lucky to even be alive now, but that was then. I would have loved to have gotten you on a track, that would have been a hoot. I am glad you enjoy this trip in the wayback machine, and that it brought forth some great memories of your own. Please take care, Bill


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